All posts by petelatona

The most popular prayer ever!

The most prayed prayer, the most recited, the most repeated, the best structure for prayer… the Lord’s prayer

I just shared in a prison chapel last night this prayer and focused on the last line… deliver us from evil or the evil one

Such a great trailer, caboose, ending, close these words do make

I even heard it used in a Spiderman movie… check this out… it is a scary scene so beware…  https://youtu.be/VrhJiD3AEg4  not sure how the Spanish got in there… and I’m not sure how this prayer got in the movie… but he certainly was evil

Excuse me…I digress… I have a penchant for superhero stuff

Anyway… Last night I shared this message with the prisoners in chapel. Such a great passage and I thought someone could benefit from these thoughts

Let me know what you think…. here goes:

The Lord’s Prayer… Deliver us from the Evil One

Matthew 6:9-13

“This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,10 your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us today our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts,  as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation,[a] but deliver us from the evil one.[b]

Let’s look at this perfect prayer for a minute and break it down a little before I get to the focus of our chapel tonight… which is the last line.

We have 3 petitions or requests towards God or aimed at the glory of God…

We want God’s name to be held high, to be respected, for him to get the credit He has coming

“Hallowed be Thy name, Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done

Then there’s 3 petitions directed to our needs…

“Give us our daily bread, forgive us our sins, and lead us not into temptation.”

This is the guideline for how we are to pray… we know this prayer by heart… most of us were taught this as children, we can recite it without even thinking about the words

So here’s how we can use this Lord’s prayer going forward… we’ll use it as a guide when we pray to the Lord

Remember… first, it’s about the glory of God then we get to our needs… this is hard to do because in this age in which we live it’s all about us

When we say “Father,” … we are saying that everything comes from Him… most people start a prayer… Dear Heavenly Father

When we say “Hallowed be Thy name,”… we are saying He is Holy, He is above us

When we say, “Thy kingdom come,” … we know one day His kingdom is coming… things are going to be made right… injustices will not be something we have to deal with daily… we could spend the evening right here… I wish I could

When we say, “Thy will be done,” … this reminds me of John the baptizer when he said “Jesus needs to increase and I need to decrease” … His will be done, not my will… remember these words? “If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself.”

I think this is the heart of the Christian life, isn’t it? This is the gospel. This is the hardest thing we will not only pray but will ever do

Those were the first three parts directed at God’s glory… now the part that talks of our needs…

When we say, “Give us this day our daily bread,” … we are thankful for our daily provision… we say grace at our meals and thank the Lord for His goodness towards us

When we say, “Forgive us our sins”…. we understand that we have a problem… sin… and we are in dire need of a savior… I always appreciate the line you hear around Christmas time… and you shall call Him Jesus because He will save His people from their sins… this was His mission.

And, like the next most famous verse after the Lord’s prayer… John 3:16 He so loved the world that He gave us His Son… the answer to our sin problem… and whosoever believes in the Son and what He did for us on the cross will be saved.

That could be another sermon.

And finally we come to the last petition

– We say, “Lead us not into temptation” …

We continue to pray…. but deliver us from evil,” or we also read in some Bibles, “From the evil one.”

I think we got a fair overview of the perfect prayer… we can frame all of our prayers with the Lord’s prayer… because we know it so well we can use it to help us when praying might be hard or when we don’t know where to begin

But I think it all leads us to this last line in the most recited prayer. And… I think what happens… at least in my case, I’ve repeated this so many times that by the time I get to the end I’ve checked out mentally and just am saying it for saying its sake… know what I’m talking about?

We pray all these things up until this line and we got ourselves all lined up with God, then comes the conclusion…

Now Lord protect us, lead us not into, deliver us from… evil… from the “Evil One”… and we know who this is, don’t we?

We back up a few chapters and you see the confrontation in the wilderness with the Devil. He’s matched up with our Lord Jesus Christ… and actually, it’s not really a match. Jesus has his number, Jesus knows his game and what he’s all about.

Isn’t it always about the devil getting us not to trust the Lord, not to put our faith in Him, not to take God at his word, to doubt Gods perfect, holy, inerrant Word… to twist God’s word.

And… we are not going to do a study of Matthew 4 right now… that’s another sermon as well

But I will point out that every time the Devil came at Jesus with his deception it seems like he got the same response… “it is written”

Check it out for yourself… a great way to handle the doubts and deception that get thrown at us from the pit… know what is written

Lead us not into temptation… Lead me not into temptation

This is the prayer at the end of the Lord’s prayer that we will focus on as we wind down

Our prayer is for God’s protection

Our prayer that God would lead us into paths of righteousness… from Psalm 23

Our prayer is that He gives us what we need to withstand the attacks of the evil one

We know that this world is full of temptations; there are all kinds of spiritual landmines out there

Seems like the world, our flesh, and the devil never rest a minute

It doesn’t take much for us to blow ourselves up, to find trouble, to go down the wrong path and to be caught in the trap of the devil

That’s why we pray…. Lord, lead me not into temptation… deliver me… help me… protect me… watch over me

The one thing we realize is that God never leads me into sin…

James 1:13… Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one.

James 1, vs 14, “Each one is tempted when he’s carried away and enticed by his own lusts.”  It’s when lust is conceived that it gives birth to sin.  And when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.

For the older crowd… they will recognize the name, Flip Wilson…. remember his famous line? The Devil made me do it… no he didn’t… no one forced you to do anything. It wasn’t your upbringing, your family, your environment, your neighborhood you grew up in

Giving in to a situation is a choice… it’s our choice

None of us are above falling into sin

There but for the grace of God there go I

Not in the Bible but… First said in the 1500’s by a Christian martyr, John Bradford

So we have had a nice study in the Lord’s prayer with the nice caboose of “lead us not into temptation”

What it comes down to is avoiding sin… temptation leads us into sin

What are we to do to avoid the situation, to stay clear of the temptation or… like 1 Cor 10:13 says…

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

With the temptation realize the escape hatch that has been provided for you

No ones forcing you to sin… is someone twisting your arm?

Heb 12:4 In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.

Can I share with you some help in avoiding temptation?

Here are 7 takeaways that will help us

No significance to the number 7 here… but it is a good number… isn’t it

  1. Avoid Sin…. isn’t this what temptation is going to lead to? Since sin is a choice, we need to give ourselves to avoiding sin. A great teacher that I’ve studied for years…. John Owen… says that we are to be killing sin or it will be killing you… what do we mean? Grandma used to say we better nip it in the bud… we better or it’s going to spiral out of control. We need to be thinking about the choices we make. Lord help me to do this daily. I need to pull out my Note to Self book from Joe Thorn and preach this to myself first.
  2. Avoid listening to the arguments that sin will bring to you… I always think of the cartoons where there’s an angel on one shoulder and the devil is on the other… someone’s about to make a bad decision and the voices start…. come on, it won’t be so bad, nobody will find out, come on… it will be so good… then the angel, the voice of reason says… think of the consequences, think of who it will hurt, think of the God that you say you love… how it will offend him

But always remember like this verse I’ll start to quote and someone will finish… the wages of sin is… death… but… the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord

Sin, the devil, the world… they are out to take you down… to kill you… seriously… the devil says its not so bad… it is bad, it is catastrophic

Galatians 6:7 Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.

  1. Avoid being passive… a slacker… just not doing anything about sin

Avoid being reactive instead of proactive

Remember Joseph and Potiphar’s wife… Run! flee!

Do we want to just let go and let God? God forbid

Jesus said we need to watch and pray that you do not enter into temptation… and we remember how that ended for Peter

  1.  Avoid those who help lead you into temptation…

Simple verse…

1 Corinthians 15:33-34… Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good character.” . Sober up as you ought, and stop sinning; for some of you are ignorant of God.

We need to be in fellowship with Christian brothers…

Galatians 6:1… Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.

Do not have a relationship with people that are going to lead you into sin… here’s one for you… your cell phone… do you know how to delete names? If not… get help

  1. Avoid going in the direction of temptation…

Got a problem with drugs… cut off those friends or going anywhere historically that you’ve gone in the past where you found yourself with drugs

Got a problem with alcohol… join a program, don’t have the stuff in the house, treat it like the plague, avoid the aisle in the store or the corner bar where you seem to end up

Got a problem with porn… get filters, get an accountability partner, get a strategy

Got a problem in the moral areas?

Whatever it is… gambling, overeating, spending, stealing, sexuality…. you got to have a plan

Avoid going toward sin in any way

  1. Consider where sin is going to end… where it will take you

We talked about this for a minute

You need to play the scenarios through

Like we shared, sin leads to death… the wages are always the same

Think of what sin did to our Lord Jesus… that’s how serious sin is… look at the lengths our Lord had to go through to deal with it

  1. We need to wise up… where do we go for wisdom?

What is wisdom? From Webster’s…

In Scripture theology, wisdom is true religion; godliness; piety; the knowledge and fear of God, and sincere and uniform obedience to his commands. This is the wisdom which is from above.

Jesus Christ is the wisdom of God

We need to hear from God, from Jesus

Through good Bible preaching

Through good bible studies

Through good, meditative Bible reading

Colossians 3:16  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

So when your day comes, when you need to be delivered from evil… you can be ready

Because you can be watching and praying

Because you know the schemes of the Devil

Because you know yourself… the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak

Because you know the, “It is writtens”… and can combat the temptations with the Word of God

Because we learned how to avoid temptation… a strategy, a change of friends, a change of direction, and getting God’s wisdom… his Word into your system

Let’s recite the Lord’s prayer one more time before I pray us out…

Prayer

 

 

 

 

 

 

Salvation… from a Hume Lake 2011 camp devotional

This is a copy of some dialogue between me and my daughter about 5 years ago. She had me write a “devotional” for a camp she was doing. I thought this was pretty good stuff… if I do say so myself. Take a read… tell me what you think.

From: Pete Latona <petelatona@sbcglobal.net> Date: December 1, 2014 at 4:00:30 PM PST To:richellelatona@gmail.com” <richellelatona@gmail.com> Subject: Fwd: here you go!

I was cleaning out some old email stuff

Saw this old email trail and started reading
Did not realize who the author was…. I said, man this pretty good stuff… Then I realized who it was… it was me!

In the last 3 yrs I’ve grown a little…. There is a 4th reason they don’t respond to the gospel call…

Because it is in Ephesians 2:8-9…  It is a gift and “not of our own doing” (ESV)

Maybe I will save this! I could learn a lesson from this guy!
Love you lots!

your pop

—– Forwarded Message —- From: Peter Latona <petelatona@sbcglobal.net> To: Richelle latona <rnlatona@yahoo.com> Sent: Wed, March 2, 2011 12:54:17 PM Subject: here you go!

Shelly,
Here’s your devotion on salvation….

If you were to ask the question, “What is the most important topic/subject in all of the Bible?”, I think the subject of salvation has to rank right near the top. Seems like that’s the key theme to me. Paradise lost, mankind exiled out of Eden, and God’s plan for man to be reconciled with a sinful fallen race. There are many that really make this all too complicated. They even have coined a word for the theologically minded for salvation, soteriology. Now that’s a mouthful. Try saying it. I don’t think I will ever try and show off and say it.
But as complicated as the subject can be made out to be, it really is quite simple. Yet many don’t seem to get it, they don’t even have a clue that they are in such desperate need of the “so great a salvation” that our saving God has made available. I personally don’t understand, seems cut and dry to me. The biggest problem we have is that ugly disconnect that we all have with God…. sin. Not a pleasant word but that’s the truth. I challenge you to find that word used anywhere (take the challenge… look for it in a magazine, newspaper, or movie, you won’t hear it used).

Almost like there’s a conspiracy to write that word out of our vocabulary. Well, salvation, the fact that God has done the all incredible hard work of bringing us back in right standing, through what Jesus did on the cross is the main theme of the Bible. And sin is dealt with there and through God’s grace and mercy, hungry spiritual beggars come to the cross and can experience forgiveness, God’s grace (God’s riches at Christ’s expense), and mercy. Such a deal, and seems like folks would take advantage of the offering, we know “the wages of sin is death but the free gift of God is eternal life” (that’s our salvation!)…  it’s free! Why don’t all of us sinners jump on it?

That’s the enigma. That’s the mystery to me. Until I got a hold of some good stuff, and now it’s dated good stuff, from Josh McDowell. He’s been pushing apologetics (that means defending the faith, for about 30 plus years). McDowell has drilled it down to 3 reasons why people don’t just take this salvation that God is making available. And everyone who is rejecting God’s free gift is falling into one of these three.

 First, people don’t accept it because of their sin, that’s right, a little confusing but true. What happens is they love their sin so much they are not giving it up. Second reason is pride, some folks don’t think they have a sin problem (I know I did) and they are proud. They say they are going to make it on their own and this God stuff is like a crutch or something for the weak. And lastly, ignorance. Like the Ostrich that sticks his head in the sand, they just don’t want to know. There are those that for some reason are indifferent or just prefer not knowing about God’s beautiful salvation he has so freely made available. Maybe some feel that if they don’t know all the details that they won’t be accountable to God… sorry, not the way it works.
So there you have it… salvation. It is a theme throughout the Bible that we keep running into all the time. For God so loved us that he made the way back to Himself. He wants to save us, to rescue us, and the table has been set. Don’t let those big three reasons above be yours for not embracing God’s salvation. I know I’m always looking for a good deal… but what God has given to us is the best imaginable!

From: Richelle latona <rnlatona@yahoo.com> To: Peter Latona <petelatona@sbcglobal.net> Sent: Wed, March 2, 2011 9:16:14 AM Subject: Re: Devotion

Yo Pop. can you get me the devotion by tomorrow??

From: Peter Latona <petelatona@sbcglobal.net> To: Richelle latona <rnlatona@yahoo.com> Sent: Mon, February 21, 2011 2:03:29 PM Subject: Re: Devotion

welcome shell

anything else on your mind?

From: Richelle latona <rnlatona@yahoo.com> To: Peter Latona <petelatona@sbcglobal.net> Sent: Mon, February 21, 2011 1:39:10 PM Subject: Re: Devotion

Thanks Pop!

 

From: Peter Latona <petelatona@sbcglobal.net> To: Richelle latona <rnlatona@yahoo.com> Sent: Mon, February 21, 2011 10:16:40 AM Subject: Re: Devotion

I will do it…. anything for you Shelly

From: Richelle latona <rnlatona@yahoo.com> To: pete latona <petelatona@sbcglobal.net> Sent: Mon, February 21, 2011 9:42:18 AM Subject: Devotion

Hey Pop. I was wondering if you would want to write a devotion for this year’s camps. The theme of the day is “Salvation”. The theme of the camp is a look at the life of David, and focusing in on how he was a man after God’s heart. I included the memory verse we are using. Your devotion will be Tuesday’s which is the decision night. So the main point we are driving home is salvation.

I just need it by the end of the week.  Let me know if you have time.

Love, shell

TUESDAY

Memory Verse: Psalms 31:1-5

Into Your Hand I Commit My Spirit To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.

1 In you, O Lord, do I take refuge; let me never be put to shame; in your righteousness deliver me! 2 Incline your ear to me; rescue me speedily! Be a rock of refuge for me, a strong fortress to save me! 3 For you are my rock and my fortress; and for your name’s sake you lead me and guide me; 4 you take me out of the net they have hidden for me, for you are my refuge. 5 Into your hand I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O Lord, faithful God. Psalms 31:1-5

How Graces Changes Everything…

Just coming off of how Easter changed everything… now we have Grace show up and I’m saying this changes everything.

This is a Sunday chapel sermon I’m giving tonight. Check it out… and tell me if you don’t think that Grace, does indeed, change everything…

How Grace Changes Everything

Titus 2:11-14

11 For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.

Intro…

This message has had about 10 titles… I’ll share a few that were close to being winners:

Grace that transforms

When Grace comes into your life

The Grace changer

Grace changes everything (closer)

When you meet up with Grace (a little hokey, I know)

When God graces you (even hokier)

But when it got all said and done I think I got it right…

How Grace changes everything… the difference Grace makes in our life. You will see by the time we get done that grace, does indeed, change everything. When the grace of God appears like He has… nothing can be the same anymore.

I grew up with an Aunt Grace… she was one of those life changing kinda people. She was always around, always helping out, always loving. I don’t think anyone could butter my toast like her. And, for sure, nobody could make an Italian cookie like her (except her daughter!), she always had ice cream money for me… but most important… she always loved me.

Let’s jump into this short section in Titus chapter 2 of the Bible. We’ll break it down verse by verse. We’ll make sure we read this section of the Holy Bible, I’ll explain it to you, then we will apply it and see how God can use this to transform us. Sound like a good plan?

For the grace of God has appeared

It appeared in the person of Jesus… this is called the incarnation.

We’ve seen John 1:14… And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Like the church I grew up in every (most Sundays… okay some Sundays) Sunday would recite as we exited… Christ Has Died. Christ Has Risen. Christ Will Come Again.

And what has happened because of this historic event…

That offers salvation to all people

Salvation has come… this is God’s saving grace

This salvation or saving grace has a few pieces to it…

First… and probably the one most understood is the fact that Jesus came to save us from our sins… I know four year olds that know this. He came to save us from the penalty of sin.

Salvation is a rescue, Jesus was on a mission. He rescued us from death.

And ultimately He rescues us from hell.

Next… this one that has appeared bringing us saving grace does some teaching…

The verse says…

It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age

First the grace of God shows up in the person of Jesus Christ… now it becomes our instructor.

I don’t know about you but along the way I had a few very good teachers and counselors… can you think of the ones you have had. They cared. They knew their stuff. They were invested in you. I’ve done a lot of coaching over the years and know how it works…

Grace is the best teacher of all, isn’t it? I mean, we are ultimately talking about God being the best teacher. Our father, our heavenly Father knows best. Because we are loved, we are saved, we are forgiven, we are adopted into His family… all this is life changing stuff. It teaches us…

Romans 2:4 the kindness of the Lord that brings about repentance

Now we wait… now we are in the in between time.

There’s a line I see in the scriptures… this age and the age to come

We are in this age and are waiting for our blessed hope…

While we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ

The Bible says because we have this hope. Because God has a day, the day, when He will return, that this does something to us… let me read this passage…

1 John 3:2  Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. 3And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure

We know the Lord is returning, we know it could be any time, we know we are to be about His business, we know there is to be an urgency about this. We need to make sure we are faithful about being good ambassadors for Jesus. Faithful about going out into the ends of the earth delivering the gospel summons to a lost world.

Who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own

This reminds us of John 3:16…. doesn’t it?

He not only deals with our sin at the wonderful cross (I like the modern day version of this song from Chris Tomlin) but He sustains us, He keeps us, He delivers us from evil (sounds like a line in the Lord’s prayer).

There has been a break from the old life which was controlled by sin.

Now as those who know 2 Corinthians 5:17 and are in Christ… out with the old and in with the new. And… God will help us with new ways, new habits, new thinking, new friends, new desires, a new heart, a new life… the King James Bible says it in a way I’ve always appreciated…

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

Eager to do what is good

What does this mean?

Why are we eager?

What is different about us that makes us want to do the right thing?

Good questions…

I did a chapel about a year ago. I brought in a 5 foot nothing leader from our prison ministry. She led us in song. She did this little ditty here that I’ll share. I won’t sing it for you today… I promise

Change my heart oh God, Make it ever true Change my heart oh God, May I be like You

You are the Potter I am the clay Mold me and make me This is what I pray

Isn’t it simple like this? When little Mary led the group of inmates in song it was quite a moving experience.

When we realize, when God helps us realize, what He has done for us… it is life changing. It causes us to be eager to do what is good. He changes us from the inside out.

You find yourself reading Psalm 119 now and you are now saying yes Lord… I am eager to do your will. Whereas before you did not have this Ezekiel 36 heart of flesh… you had the pre-Jesus heart of stone and you were (I was) a rebel child.

But now… thanks be to God… behold! All things are become new.

Let me close with a little memory I have.

My daughter asked me to speak at a youth camp… this was a few years ago

I did not realize there would be so many 4-6th grade munchkins… but I loved every minute of it!

They started every night with this little kid’s song. I am famous for listening to lyrics of songs (it’s a wonder I’m not goofier than I already am with all the before Christ came to me Led Zeppelin stuff I piped into my numbskull).

About the 3rd night I picked up on the lyrics of this little repetitive song the kids would sing… the leader of the worship music was really good and had those kids really into it with this catchy tune. I know I was. It went like this…

The greatest day in history Death is beaten, You have rescued me Sing it out, Jesus is alive

The empty cross, the empty grave Life eternal, You have won the day Shout it out, Jesus is alive He’s alive Oh, happy day, happy day You washed my sin away Oh, happy day, happy day I’ll never be the same Forever I am changed

 Songwriters Timothy David Hughes;Ben Cantelon

Published by THANKYOU MUSIC, LTD.

I think that says it all. Doesn’t it?

In a simple little silly song where the gospel is made very clear. It’s a very happy day because Jesus washed my sins away.

I’ll never be the same.

Forever I am changed.

 

 

Because of Easter… Easter 2016

Easter 2016… it is here. Every year I get fired up over this holiday. This has to be my favorite! Spring has sprung. The plants, flowers, trees, grass (yes… grass… I’m forever trying to get my grass to rise to this occasion)… everything seems to be in concert for this re-awakening. I love it.

Got this on my door step as a reminder…

he is risen

From John 11:25

Saw this in my Sunday morning paper… courtesy of the “Hobby Lobby”…. I think that’s a store that my beloved goes to for crafty stuff. Nice of them to take a whole page ad out. That must of cost a few bucks. Guess they wanted to make sure somebody saw the message. I love it… right up my alley… classic theology! Really the point of the whole season! They were even kind enough to include the verse address… Romans 4:25

hobby lobby

You know… this day changes everything. It changed everything. This is a marker. A line of demarcation. A line in the sand. A before and after. An old and new testament… old and new covenant.

I was coming out of Snappys Coffee (on A St Hayward… great place) and on the window was this picture…

this changes everything

This changes everything!! The aliens have arrived… everything will be different now. Well, I guess something like this has happened. There was an alien invasion of sorts (sounds a little funny), but there was an alien righteous one, apart from us, outside of us.

Joan Osborne in 1995 had a lame song… can you tell it disturbs me?

“What if God was one of us? / Just a slob like one of us? / Just a stranger on the bus / Trying to make His way home?”

It wasn’t like that at all. He came into this world with purpose. With a mission. With an alien righteousness. Without sin, like not one of us. And the mission was to deal with this issue of sin. Like the Hobby Lobby verse. And when He gave up his spirit like the gospel writer said, “It was finished”.

So now… because of what happened at Golgotha… the place where this horrific event took place some 2000 years ago… it is finished. It’s done. Mission accomplished. He did it. He did it for us. It is the most popular verse in the Bible fleshed out… John 3:16

John 3:16  English Standard Version (ESV)

16 “For God so loved the world,[a] that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

All because of Jesus. There’s a silly sappy movie that came out in 2005. AnnaSophia Rob (she played the surfer that lost an arm from a shark) and Jeff Daniels of Dumb and Dumber fame… or infamy, I might say. The little ditty was called, “Because of Winn-Dixie”. Now any wholesome movie with a pup and I’m all in. This dog was precious.

winn dixie

The gist of the story was because of Winn-Dixie everything was different, changed for the better. The impact the shaggy pup made was incredible. This was kind of an up dated Pollyanna movie. I’m sorry, I’m weak for this stuff.

But, what I’m trying to say in a roundabout way is that “Because of” Jesus there’s nothing the same anymore. We need to realize that. That will change you. It did me. There’s before and after strewn all over the place because of Jesus. Because of Easter. And it’s obvious once you stop and take a minute. This wasn’t a “Where’s Waldo” deal… this was public. This was historical. This was out there for everyone to see. Some accounts say that the risen Christ appeared to more than 500 people. Then you get His disciples turning the world upside down… they were changed… radically. You get bloggers blogging some 2000 years later. I spotted a few much much better blogging than mine worth reading today. My old pastor friend Karl has been going on for a week… I love his stuff… http://karlalsin.blogspot.com/?m=1

Last count he catalogued 8 reasons why Jesus had to come and die. I was perusing them again this morning… Karl nails it. This is really really good. Take a minute and go over these. You’ll see the mission and why these things took place in history… for us.

John Piper was piping in his bog… 10 amazing reasons. I remember Casey Stengel’s Amazing Mets of 69… that was the only amazing I understood. But now this is truly amazing… life changing. World rattling. Read these top 10 and you’ll see.

http://solidjoys.desiringgod.org/en

So… Easter 2016. It never gets old for me. Even as I type I’m amped. I even seem to pick up the RPM’s on my Dell’s keyboard when I think of the ramifications, the implications. Now, I need to breathe it all in anew and afresh. I need to live what I know to be true. I need to let this risen one do a work in me. I love the old Lion King line that came down to Simba (I think it was James Earl Jones voice) “Simba, remember who you are”… remember that. Then that triggered everything.

Lord, help me to realize who I am (in You). Help me to be different because of what you’ve done. Isn’t that the gospel? Because of what he did. Because of what He accomplished… it changes everything. Because of Jesus… things will never be the same again.

 

 

 

 

 

Words of Hope…

I told my sis that I love very much that I would post some words of encouragement. She has a loved one that has been incarcerated and will be released in the weeks ahead. As someone that spends my weekends with those that are in jail I need to bring some words of hope, of inspiration, of encouragement.

I always think about that when I’m visiting with those behind bars. How can I be a spiritual oasis? How can I bring something, anything that might be of help? I don’t want to just show up and be another visitor. I want to bring relief. If you think about it… it’s all I do have, all I can bring to those I visit is a word. Some good news.
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I usually don’t have much time so I need to bring the best words I can find. I do enter into the prison always wielding a copy of the scriptures. For in them we do find solace. We find truth. We find hope. We find what our souls need. Jesus did say that mankind is never going to make it on physical sustenance alone… but we are need of spiritual food. That’s found in Saint Matthews account chapter 4, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’’.  I like the authority of this “it is written” statement that has been preserved for us.

Seems like most of us get on in this life most of the time without giving much attention to our souls. To the spiritual side of life. Until there’s a crisis. Until we hit a big valley. A health issue. With the folks I visit it’s incarceration. And… even then many folks seem to get on okay. I’ve been at a few deathbeds and it’s there that many people realize they need some soul care. But what about words of hope that we can use right now.

I’ve given this much thought. What are some words that we can run to for consolation? Where can we turn for help for a thirsty soul? My mom had as her favorite Psalm 23. David’s shepherd Psalm. Sweeter words than these are hard to find. I know the King James Bible has archaic language, but for me it sounds so good, it sounds right…

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

Let those words sink in. Aren’t those great words of encouragement? I have always loved the imagery. The good shepherd, the pastures, the still waters. The valley, His comfort, His goodness and mercy. No wonder this is among the most popular of “comfort words” in human history.
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How about the Lord’s Prayer for some spiritual comfort food. In Saint Matthew’s gospel, chapter 6, our Lord just finishes up with some ways not to approach God and how not to pray… then He brings the model prayer to us. How we should pray. Try reading this like it’s the first time you’ve read it. I know, it’s hard. We have all recited this so many times that it’s easy to glaze over it and miss just how good it is. It’s the perfect prayer. Read it slow and use it as a skeleton for your prayers…

“This, then, is how you should pray:

“‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.

Back to the subject of words for thirsty souls. I think of a passage found in Isaiah and I believe partially referred to at the end of the Bible, in Revelation… it goes like this:

“Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food.  Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live;  Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth,  so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

The gist of the passage is that God wants us to come to Him. Come and get what you need, “soul relief” at no charge. He says He will have compassion. He pardons. Everyone on the planet needs to know they can be pardoned. Live long enough and you will have regrets, you will stumble, you will need forgiveness. That’s part of the human condition, isn’t it? So there is One that can be approached and says my thoughts, my words, are not yours. My ways are above yours. We need to get a dose of these words of encouragement. We need to soak them up.

Interesting thing. I was visiting inmates last weekend and went to a max unit. I was settling onto a stainless steel picnic table and had my “words” of encouragement queued up. Then I heard my name. Someone came out from beyond the doors and recognized me. This happens once in a while so I did not think much of it. But, this was someone that knew me from juvenile hall. I met him some 5-6 years ago. This always breaks my heart. The young fellas name was Reggie. He sat with me and I brought the “word”.

I always want to bring hope. I bring words that soothe the soul. That Reggie is loved. That Reggie was not forgotten, nor forsaken. That these words (like Psalm 23) are what are souls long for and need to hear. That he can experience forgiveness and have a peace that passes understanding. He was taking it all in and it was good to re-unite. He then said something that I’ll never forget and I really appreciated. Reggie said that I was doing the same thing that I was doing back when I met with him in juvenile hall. He remembered I always had the Bible out and was sharing verses. I said that it’s always the same message (my hope is that as he’s a few years older that he might be wiser and listen, learn, and live because of the Word). The gospel, the good news. the eternal words, the living hope. There’s no secret here. And, I know, I’m a broken record. That’s okay. These are the words we need. Here’s a rapid fire barrage of them… let these words go down deep in our souls:

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.”  I need this bread that He offers… I need daily bread. When we have recited the Lord’s prayer it speaks about daily bread.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” I need this satisfaction. We all do.

My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. Whether we realize it or not… our souls do thirst for God.

O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly; My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, In a dry and weary land where there is no water.

You know, we are all made of the same stuff. Out of Psalm 103… For he knows how weak we are; he remembers we are only dust”.

I’m weak. I need to hear these words of encouragement daily. There was a time I thought I was pretty tough. Now I know I’m not. Traffic a few years on the planet, it can be a desert at times. It can make us weary. Life isn’t easy at times. As I take these kinds of “words” into those that need to hear them, I always share that I first need to hear them myself. I’m privileged to do a monthly chapel at the jail and I always say that I first “preach” the message to myself first. I need to hear it.

I grew up on the east coast and for the most part attended the traditional church of my parents. When you are a kid you don’t listen much, but there were some things that stuck… especially at the end of the service. I was a kid that had more important (so I thought) things to get to. There was what was called the Memorial Acclamation, and, as a young kiddo, I had no idea what this meant. The priest would say it was the mystery of faith and said the following:

Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.

Dying you destroyed our death, rising you restored our life. Lord Jesus, come in glory.

When we eat this bread and drink this cup, we proclaim your death, Lord Jesus, until you come in glory.

Lord, by your cross and resurrection, you have set us free. You are the Saviour of the world.

There is so much packed in those “acclamations” that I could go off for hours. But… trying to have some kind of brevity I wanted to just speak to the most important piece. Especially, and in light of where we are on the holy calendar 2016. As we approach the Easter season we are always reminded that this living Word, our Savior Jesus, came, lived among us, was delivered up by Pontius Pilate, was crucified and rose again on the third day.

Because of the resurrection everything has changed. There is an answer to this world of death, dying, hopelessness, disease, hate, war… and you name it. We jump ahead to the last chapter of the Book… because of what Jesus has done, is doing, and what He will do, there is incredible hope. The future is secure and it helps us to live in the here and now. Some old Bibles have the word “Maranatha” there at the end of Revelation 22. It was a greeting that they had that either meant the Lord is coming or come Lord Jesus.

Those who have named the name of Christ have a living hope that will transform us now and also will give us assurance for the future. My prayer is that with the comfort of these life changing words that I’ve shared that the Spirit of God will take them and do a work in our lives.

Maranatha.

 

 

 

Handel’s Messiah in February?

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In the spirit of recycling old stuff… this is a blog post from 2012 that I wanted to re-post. An old classmate brought up Handel and this got me to thinking… maybe it’s worth a re-visit.

I remember how excited I was after we went to the symphony and just had to put it down in writing. I remember going to work with one of my chaplain brothers at the jail, Jerry Ashley, and we just went on and on about the experience. Jerry passed away last year… I miss him. But I do remember the excitement we shared after I went to the Messiah. He said he was going the following year. He’s with the Messiah in heaven so he’s not going to the symphony… I’ll bet he’s really experiencing the hallelujah chorus!

Anyway… makes me a little sad to reminisce… with all that here’s my post from 2012:

Our daughter gave us an early Christmas present. She treated us to Handel’s Messiah at the SF Symphony. What a nice, festive evening out in the city. We BART trained over and got there early and I had no idea what a treat I was in for on a Friday night.  Now if you want to learn a little about Handel. We found a good article that will get you up to speed  http://www.christianitytoday.com/ch/131christians/musiciansartistsandwriters/handel.html

That’s not why this needs to be blogged about. You see, I had no idea, I thought I knew a little about Messiah, the few songs we hear at Christmas time…. The Hallelujah chorus (which by the way… was so powerful that the audience rose to their feet spontaneously), the famous Isaiah 9 song, For unto us a Child is born, but I had no idea that the symphony is set directly to scripture.

There was a program handed out, and I didn’t take one. Figuring I didn’t need it, I was here for the listening pleasure. But when I realized it was going verse by verse I got myself a program in hand at the first intermission.

Some of the verses are so rich and say it all. Guess you don’t need too much commentary, God can speak for himself. I was thinking (and so were many of Handel’s detractors) that this would play well at Easter… great selection of Lenten type material. I was also thinking and praying for those around me… do you folks realize what is being sung? Do you hear the message? Now I’m not any kind of judge nor do I ever want to think of myself better than anyone in the crowd… trust me, I’m not. I’m a sinner saved my grace and a fellow beggar that is just someone that tells others where they can get a meal. And… they sure could have received a meal last night… it was a feast of sorts.

But, what I wanted to say… I don’t think this crowd was getting the message. I just had a sneaking suspicion as I panned around and looked at those in attendance. Just my humble opinion.

Handel was very clever how he used the scriptures to share the message… it was the Gospel set to beautiful music. Now this classic rendition we heard last night was not wasted on anyone…  I believe Isaiah 55 http://bible.cc/isaiah/55-11.htm the Lord’s Word always accomplishes it purpose.

I wanted to take a minute and look at some of the great verses that were put to music… and what fine musicians they were by the way, and what a place… take a look….

The first key verse to note was Isaiah 9:6:

For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Written 700 years before Christ and the passage surely seems to be pointing right towards Jesus. Someone has said, just how was he able to foretell that the Christ would come and fulfill this? Only because of 2 Peter 1:21  21 For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. The “chorus” was sung by the entire choir and that was a high for the evening.

Then there were many passages that rung of an Easter program out of Isaiah 53:4-6

4 Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. 6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

How do you escape that message? I don’t understand. Now to the highest point of the evening… the Hallelujah chorus with passages out of Revelation 11:15, 19:6, 16

Hallelujah: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.

And then the resounding King of Kings and Lord of Lords. That was impressive.

I could go on and on…. About 25-30 key Bible sections that Handel covered. I had no idea. We are going to have to do that again. Maybe an annual tradition. Walking to the BART station from that incredible event was a real eye opener in contrasts. We just heard about the incredible glory that will be revealed… the symphony spent extra time in one of my favorite sections in 1 Corinthians 15

20 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.

21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.

22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,

52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.

54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.                                                                                

The contrast is the state of things right now versus what is coming. As sure as they sung about these beautiful things, and as sure as God’s Word is, these things sung last night will come to pass. That’s what a lot of these folks weren’t getting and it takes a lot for it to get through to my dense mind as well.

As I walked to the train and then headed home to a warm house stocked with food, then into a warm winter’s night sleep, I was thinking of what I saw in the city. The homeless folks, the kids that looked awful lost, a few cities that did not look so good on the outside. Something is not right

Not to take too far of a turn here, this is a blog to encourage and turn our hearts to the Lord, surely Handel’s Messiah will do that for you. But we have to realize when we look around, especially in a big city, that we are definitely in the “in between time”… between Christ’s first and second Advent. A favorite phrase of mine you will catch now when you read your Bible (look for it)  this age and the age to come”.  Handel selected perfect passages out of the Revelation of John and 1 Corinthians 15 that share how all things will be made right.

The Lord uses works like this to work on us in this sin hardened world. He has a beautiful future waiting for us and it was summed up in a verse he used earlier in the program found in Matthew 11:28-29… read this and realize the “rest” that only can come from above. I don’t know about you but this world of ours can make us weary… I long for what only this Messiah can bring us…

28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

 

 

 

 

It’s the end of the world!!

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This is a re-post of a blog I wrote in 2012. I just re-read it… I thought it might be worth re-posting. Take a read and tell me what you think.

THE END OF THE WORLD!! I don’t think there has ever been so much noise made over a subject. In this small space over the few minutes or so I’ll show you what I mean by THE END. Remember last year? Harold Camping’s dire predictions? He called it for about the 5th time and was wrong again….  http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/business/2011/10/harold-camping-doomsday-prophet-wrong-again/

But he apologized for it, so it’s okay… you know what they used to do to those in Bible times that made faulty predictions? One of my favorite teachers was too nice to him in his blog… http://www.ligonier.org/blog/harold-camping-false-prophet/

I think Camping caused a lot of mess, but maybe there was something redeeming about the whole fiasco. People need to have a grip on matters that deal with eternal destiny. There are two things guaranteed in this life according to Mark Twain… and one of them is death. I would say the other is the fact that there is an end to this age as we know it. I grew up in a traditional church on the east coast and after taking communion they always had what was called the Memorial Acclamation. For those interested in these things…. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Memorial_Acclamation. The words… “Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again”… just blew by me until I got in my twenties… Christ will come again? Ever recite the Lord’s Prayer? “Thy Kingdom come”. This kingdom stuff is strewn all over the Bible. Very interesting. Don’t you wonder what this is all about? This is all tied into THE END OF THE WORLD as we know it… but, as you will see… there is no end as far as finality goes. Hopefully, I can make some sense out of the nonsense for you by the time we are done here.

There is a fascination in the heart of man like no other it seems when it comes to the END OF THE WORLD  (I like to do the caps for dramatic effect). Seems so ominous when I see it in headlines or on the picture boards people wear…

There have been more books, movies, words, and messages dedicated to this subject. I myself have spent countless hours studying and learning about the end times. I surely wanted to make sure I’m pretty clear about the future and what it holds. So do a lot of other people, so it seems… or else you would not be reading this. This is a compelling subject.

Books… did you know the Late Great Planet Earth by Hal Lindsey was the best selling non-fiction book of the 70’s? Did you know the Left Behind series by Tim Lahaye has far exceeded any of those sales with about 50 million units sold? John Walvoord’s book about the Middle East crisis keeps popping up every time things get stirred up over there… but with a new cover each round. That has been a pretty good mover as well.  Type in a Google search for Last days or End of Days…. about 721,000,000 hits is what I got!

Did you realize that for a day… May 21, 2011 that the End of the World was Google’s hottest topic! http://ipost.christianpost.com/news/jesus-resurrects-on-google-as-harold-campings-rapture-fails-10103/ . It was also recorded that the fellow that was pushing the 2 dates last year made a lot of money over this deal… Google that one… Camping is worth millions and millions. That doesn’t set well with me. Besides upsetting so many folks like he did he cashed in on the hype.

Movies… how many movies have there been? Too many to list here, and too much time for me to research. I know that in church circles in the 70’s there were some really bad ones that we used to scare folks into making a decision to follow Christ… remember Thief in the Night and Distant Thunder… they were really B movies and not a good method for winning souls to our Lord. But for those interested in Last Days cinema: here are the top 10… http://www.moviedup.com/2010/top-10-end-of-the-world-films/ . Remember, even Arnold got into it and made the thriller –  “End of Days”. Oh, his Terminators flicks had an end of days flavor to them as well.

Song… even music gets into it and there have been doomsday songs on the radio… Barry McGuire’s Eve of Destruction was popular when I first started listening to pop music (he has since turned into a great folk gospel artist… I even went to a concert… great stuff!). There is weird stuff when it comes to Last Days music… try that Google search… a little morbid and depressing. But there was Keith Green, who I listened to in the 80’s who was famous for his Last Days ministries… which is still going and doing some great things http://www.lastdaysministries.org/Groups/1000008637/Last_Days_Ministries/LDM/Our_Story/Our_Story.aspx   they seem to have some last days stuff that makes sense.

Why all the fascination with Last Days, the End of the World? Why all the googling and ogling? Books? It’s crazy what this subject does to people. Well, here are my thoughts as to why there is such a stir. Hopefully… I can make some sense out of the nonsense. I won’t do a Letterman top ten list… I just have five reasons why the clamor over the subject.

Number 1… I think some people treat the subject like they would a train wreck. There is a weird place in many a human being for the mayhem and destruction… ever see how well these goofy destruction movies do? There is a sick side to human nature… part of the fall I suppose.

Number 2… There is the “Lemming effect” or Pied Piper thing where people just seem to listen to anyone with a grandiose prediction or prophecy. Nostradamus has received a lot of play. Orwell’s 1984, Late Great books, Jim Jones, David Koresh… etc. Even in our churches today, get a guy with a lot of charisma and he can get 20,000 parishioners a week to partake of the cool aid. Sad to say… there are hundreds of thousands a week that follow blindly and don’t ask the hard questions like the noble Berean’s did back in the first century http://bible.cc/acts/17-11.htm  They listened, then went home, and checked it out for themselves, and tested what they heard to make sure it was true. Unfortunately… too many lazies that don’t check stuff out for themselves… awful lot of phonies running around these days. The Bible calls them false prophets, warns us about them, and gives implicit warnings as to how to deal with them. There are plenty of scriptural directives as to how to smell one of them.

Number 3… the Fear Factor… there are folks afraid and looking for answers. Fear is one of the worst motivators, isn’t it? So sad that these doomsayers don’t seem to have any good answers, do they? Harold said he was sorry. I do feel sorry for him. Scripture has harsh warnings for those who lead people astray. Don’t want to be in that group of individuals.

Number 4… I think there are those that just are fascinated with the whole thing. It is like these new Play Station games that are coming out. Destruction, chaos, mayhem, war, fighting, darkness, nuclear holocaust aftermath. Didn’t Will smith just make a movie like this? Didn’t Denzel just make one too? Guys think of it as war games and they are just into it. Remember the Terminator series and all the movies that were spawned after it? I don’t quite get this myself. Never have played video games but I see the commercials as you do. There is some kind of market…. And the warning goes at the end of the commercial…rated “M” for mature. How many mature kids are playing these?

Number 5… and the most important… there are those legitimately concerned about the future and their personal eternal destinies. I am. I know I was sure afraid of all the hype surrounding the future… death, end of the world, last days, the apocalypse, etc. That was what drew me to Christianity at first… I was really fearful of the future. There are many that have honest concerns, questions, and misconceptions.

Can we make sense of the nonsense? Where do we turn for some straight answers? Are there any? Or, just weird religious views? Yes… always in the religious category box. Nothing to do with accurate, historical information. Some people just have a bleak view and say you just got to keep the faith brother? Or, that we really can’t know or understand… just have to trust God, the mysteries are in His hands. Well, I’m not buying into that, never have, never will.

There has been sufficient Revelation given (The Bible), accurate Revelation and information that can help us have clear answers and a sure hope for the future. And I’m not going to make it easy in a 1,2, 3 formulaic way for you to have all the answers. It’s not that easy. But I will point you to where you need to go for some healthy information. There is an abundance of Scripture and resources but you have to do some mining, some of your own research. While we are on the subject of five… I have five things you can do to get your own answers about the Last Days.

First thing is some reading… here’s a site for some great books on the Last Days of this age… http://www.monergismbooks.com/Last-Things-Eschatology-p-1-c-588.html The technical term is eschatology… don’t let the big word intimidate you. Just refers to the last days of this age we are living in. Don’t go for the pop end times culture stuff that you find in Wal Mart or Costco. I actually got to meet the author of those books, nice guy, great guy but the Left Behind stuff will do just that to you as far as knowledge goes.

Secondly… realize that it is not the end that’s coming. Not in the sense that we are all toast… its final, we are all going up in a nuclear holocaust. The Bible clearly talks about this age and the age to come… http://www.2pi.info/bible/plan/kingdom/TwoAgeModel.html  Type the phrase into a Google search… very interesting results… littered all over the New Testament. There is an age to come.

Third… listen to some good stuff in regards to the End Times. Two places I find some great free stuff: http://kimriddlebarger.squarespace.com/ and  http://www.whitehorseinn.org/blog/category/white-horse-inn/2011-show-archive/

Fourth…  test everything yourself. Look it up, study for yourself, question, don’t settle, be diligent. Remember those noble Berean’s in the book of Acts? Find some smart people and volley the subject with them. This is important stuff. What are others saying? What do they believe?

Fifth and lastly… have you seen the end of the story? Like I said earlier it’s not the end, it’s the beginning. There are some great chapters at the end of the 66 book collection called the Bible. Have you read:

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

5He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

6He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. 7He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son. Revelation 21

Throughout the scriptures there is this theme of a new world coming… there is a bright hope, a future, it is not the end, but the beginning. The “curse” will be reversed and things will be as they once were… certainly the way things are now are not the way things were intended to be. Don’t believe in a fall? I challenge you to pick up a newspaper on any given day. That proves my point. Why can’t we all just get along… because we can’t and we won’t until we meet up again with the Prince of Peace.

So… all that to say this… The End of the World? The Last Days? Apocalypse? Left Behind? Armageddon (we didn’t even deal with the big term). What do you think now? Are you going to check it all out for yourself now… without the fear factor? Now the last words about the Last Days as we know them…

“Behold, I am coming soon! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy in this book.”

Then he told me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, because the time is near. Let him who does wrong continue to do wrong; let him who is vile continue to be vile; let him who does right continue to do right; and let him who is holy continue to be holy.”

“Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.

“Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.”

The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.

The operative words…. Come, thirsty, free, life. Read these things for yourself if you want to be sure about these last days. There are some clear, concise answers to be found. You can always EMAIL me with any unanswered questions.

Easter is sneaking up on us fast… now that you understand a little more about these end days. When we combine what happened at Easter it’s a pretty complete package.  I feel an Easter blog coming on!

 

Why support my Angels… The Angel Tree project

Why support my Angels… The Angel Tree project

kids

This is a post to make one last call to get support for the angels! Still have a number of kiddos in need of gifts. What a great opportunity to bless and to be blessed. As a prison chaplain and serving those that are incarcerated I catch a very small glimpse of the frustration that comes with being incarcerated and not being able to be there for your children during the holidays. One of the privileges and blessings I enjoy is seeing men that are changed by God’s power while in jail. But… there is still the fact that they are changed on the inside but remain in prison and still have their sentences to fulfill.

Here’s where Angel Tree can help, if even just a little bit. We receive requests from these parents in jail and take them and want to deliver some Christmas joy on their behalf. And… actually, we do this to the tune of about 400,000 kiddos per year. Each one is important, each one is a gift from God, and each one, like any kiddo has some expectations for the holiday.

I remember those early Christmas holidays as a youngster… do you? Such anticipation. Couldn’t hardly go to bed. My folks were always good about spoiling us and in the morning we’d race out and greet Christmas morning and devour the Christmas spoils. I lived on the east coast and still recall the year I got a bicycle. Only problem was… we were in the middle of a pretty good snow storm. Sure was tough going down old Blanch street circa 1965 in all the snow and slosh.

bike

 

So… what we do here at Angel Tree is try to deliver in Jesus name, in the dad’s name some Christmas cheer to under privileged kids whose dad cant be there for them. I have names, gender, ages, and desired gifts in a database. And… about 50 more kids to sponsor. Running out of time. But with a little prayer, a little hope, a little help, and my Christmas elves we will get these kids sponsored.

A little clip from St Matthew… the section in its entirety for you to read… http://biblehub.com/matthew/25.htm

“I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
The gist of it, and its an encouragement to me, is the fact that when we meet the needs of the poor, the hungry, the sick, and those in prison… its as if you were doing it for Jesus. Pretty heavy stuff. Now, you cant very easily go visit those in prison (believe me, its not easy… but if you feel led to do that let know… we could use some help!) but , you can support indirectly with a project like this.

It’s easy to be a part. If you want to help with a gift let me know. If you want to deliver some gifts… always room for more elves! Either way… if this kind of stuff pulls some heart strings… let me know. I’m weak when it comes to kiddos. We have recently been blessed with a new grandchild. Holding her in my arms is a new high. Almost wells them up thinking about her. Actually, it did. I watch my daughter and son in law with her and they are so good, so nurturing. She is so blessed to have them as parents. Then I think of these children and their situations. Not good. If we can bring even a slice of God’s touch. Let them know in Jesus name that there is ultimately a heavenly Father that cares and loves them… then we’ve done it. It’s a start.

parents in prison

Guess that’s why I have been at this since 1981 ministering to this marginalized segment. And, let me tell you. I’ve received far more than I’ve given. Too many times I’ve been blessed beyond measure from my inmates.

Please help if you can, if you feel led, if you’ve been blessed and can share. Get in touch with me. I think of that “Pay it Forward” movie, where people that have been given pay it forward. Guess this is a little like that kind of a lay away plan. I’ll close with this classic passage out of Matthew chapter 6…

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20“But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; 21for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Intro to Petes Page

This is a page dedicated to my favorite subject… or rather person… The Lord Jesus. Subject sounds way too impersonal. I want to make sure and represent Him the best I can and surround this website and blog with the best teaching, writing, preaching, doctrinal information,,, etc.

I also would like to use the blog to bring daily devotional type materials that people can benefit from. I want to help fellow pilgrims along the way. The organization that I work with, Prison Fellowship, the founder, Chuck Colson, said that we are all fellow beggars that are showing others where to go for spiritual food. That best describes me… I’m pointing people to the true source, the true bread, the true light, to Jesus.